There is a unique floral kingdom in the area where I am staying at the moment. Fynbos is not found anywhere else in the world. Year after year the South African exhibitors win gold at the Chelsea Flower Show – partly because of their skill of design, but also because of the wonder of the flowers they use.
Fynbos needs fire. It grows straggly, woody, and ceases eventually to be beautiful. So when fire sweeps through its lands it burns to the ground. The seeds are germinated by the heat and the smoke and spring to life again. They pierce the soil. To begin with it is the more delicate species that push forward, flowering profusely, like a spring meadow. Yellows, blues, pinks, of all shades and shapes are scattered across the recovering veld. As they grow, the tougher varieties begin to take over. And then they too flower in all their glory.
Wondrous shapes, enormous blooms, spikes, domes, pudding plates, filled with succulent nectar much loved by sugar birds and orange-breasted sunbirds. Flitting from one flower to the next, they play their part in collecting nectar and spreading pollen.
Proteas. Glorious, unique, stunningly beautiful.
Yesterday we went to the Protea Forest. We were surrounded by tall, mature plants on one side of the road, coming into flower. In another week or two they will be at their peak. On the other side, the lands had been burned eighteen months ago and the young, tender fynbos was in full flower covering the ground with colour.
Creation at its most beautiful. The colours of God’s love.